Newsquest Bradford journalists vote to ballot
27 November 2008
NUJ members at Newsquest Bradford have voted unanimously to ballot for industrial action if threatened with compulsory redundancies. An announcement about job cuts is expected tomorrow.
Two vacant reporters' posts and one production journalist's have already been left unfilled. The expected redundancies would leave the firm's editorial workforce at 60 per cent of its strength eight years ago.
Journalists face increased workload and stress and the quality of news delivered to readers will suffer.
Management broke off pay talks in mid-negotiation last week, withdrawing an offer of three per cent, and imposed a pay freeze.
Bob Smith, father of the NUJ chapel, said:
"Journalists at Newsquest's Bradford titles face a double Christmas crunch.
"First, managers told staff they would get no extra pay, even though inflation has been at high levels during the past few months.
"Then, they dropped the jobs bombshell, saying the editorial department would be cut by ten per cent. It's hard to see where managers can slash any further without serious, lasting damage to the company."
Managers have said proposals for job cuts will be revealed to journalists on the Telegraph & Argus, Keighley News, Craven Herald, Ilkley Gazette and Wharfedale Observer at the end of the week.
However, group editor Perry Austin-Clarke did reveal some good news – he's been offered a pay rise for taking on extra responsibility following the departure from the company of the Newsquest Bradford managing director Charlie Birrell.
NUJ chapel members pointed out they have been taking on extra responsibilities and workloads for years without any financial reward. Journalists now produce blogs, video reports and regular additional material for the company's website.
Bob Smith continued:
"NUJ members in the Bradford chapel are fighting not just for their jobs, but for the quality of journalism and a fair deal for readers.
"With journalists' numbers cut to the levels proposed, proper scrutiny of the political, business and everyday life of this area just won't be possible.
"We don't believe these proposed redundancies are necessary or beneficial. We certainly don't believe anyone should be forced out of a job. If cuts are to be made, these must come from volunteers. It's the least Newsquest owes its loyal staff.
"If any NUJ members face compulsory job losses, the chapel will ballot for industrial action. The anger at our chapel meeting was stronger than I've seen for years."